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Vaginal Discharge in Dogs

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Vaginal discharge is the appearance of liquid material (other than urine) from the labia of the vulva (the external female genitals). Vaginal discharge may be clear and watery (serous), bloody, thick and gray (mucousy), yellow/green (purulent), or dark green/black (after giving birth). The discharge may or may not have an odor. Licking at the vulva may also be noted.

Vaginal discharge, depending on the type and circumstances, may be considered normal in some cases. However, its presence may also signify a disease process of the urinary tract or reproductive tract.

Causes

  • Vaginal discharge is a normal part of the heat cycle of the intact female dog. Bloody discharge occurs for several days when the bitch is in heat (in estrus).

  • Vaginal discharge is also a normal finding in the immediate postpartum (after birth) period. A dark green to black discharge is often present for several days, and traces of discharge may persist for up to 3 weeks.

  • When the placental sites do not recede in the bitch after birth, then a persistent watery and sometimes bloody discharge may occur. This type of discharge is abnormal.

  • Any discharge that occurs during a pregnancy is potentially abnormal.

  • Urogenital tract infections, such as a urinary tract infection or an infected uterus (pyometra), may result in an opaque purulent discharge from the vulva.

  • Neoplasia (cancer) of the urogenital tract may cause bloody, mucousy or purulent vaginal discharge.

  • Vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina) may give rise to watery or mucousy discharge.

  • Coagulation (clotting) disorders that result in abnormal bleeding may produce a bloody discharge that can be difficult to distinguish from blood in the urine (hematuria).

  • Trauma or the presence of a foreign body in the vagina may result in bloody, watery or purulent discharge.

  • Urinary incontinence (inability to hold urine in the bladder) secondary to an abnormal location (ectopic) of the ureter, or a problem with the bladder sphincter (the muscle that acts like a valve at the opening of the bladder) may result in pooling of urine in the vagina and secondary irritation and discharge.

  • A defect and open communication (fistula) between the rectum and vagina may lead to the passage of watery fecal material from the vagina.

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